Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 05/2015

Never Again: Building resilient health systems and learning from the Ebola crisis

Mohga Kamal-Yanni

April 2015

Oxfam Publishing


It took the threat of a global health crisis to illustrate the failings of Africa’s health systems. Resilient health systems, free at the point of use, are evidently a global public good. They are essential for the provision of universal health coverage and for a prompt response to outbreaks of disease. Resilient health systems require long-term investment in the six key elements that are required for a resilient system: an adequate number of trained health workers; available medicines; robust health information systems, including surveillance; appropriate infrastructure; sufficient public financing and a strong public sector to deliver equitable, quality services. Global investment in research and development for medical products is also critical. This briefing paper identifies lessons from the current Ebola crisis, as well as previous outbreaks, to review what is required to build resilient health systems in West Africa and beyond. The paper presents recommendations for affected countries, governments, donors and international organizations.